Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dividing Independent India by Experimenting with School Education System !

The other day, this teenage girl approached my wife with a request. She wanted my wife to give her some free coaching for her school subjects which she finds difficulty to cope up. She is from a poor family of daily wage earners living in the capital city of the mineral rich state of Jharkhand.

This city has a legacy of good schools that got established right from the British era. There are a number of so called privately run  'public' schools many of them managed by christian churches of various denominations.

Of late, with the liberalisation of education policies, the number of such institutions set up by various kinds of societies and trusts have multiplied many fold. Almost all the schools which are set up almost exclusively by private funding carry out their instructions in English language. They are commonly known as English Medium schools. Of late, most of these schools carry the word 'public' in their names.

I am at a loss to understand what do they mean by this word 'public' because their actions and activities normally do not support anything of general public interest. Except, perhaps the public craze for imparting english medium education for their wards. The ultra 'nationalist' politicians have transformed the state run schools deprived of good standards including facilities for good english education and english medium education. The  craze for english medium education has resulted from their perception to consider the English medium education as superior as far as opportunities of higher education and employability are concerned.

Now coming back to the story of the girl. My wife was a little apprehensive of her capability to accept her request. So she requested her to bring her text books of the subjects for which she felt the most difficulty. So, the girl brought the text books of two subjects . One was the reader for English Language. The other was in Hindi with many lines  of mathematical equations having English language symbols on all pages. Obviously it was her Mathematics text in Hindi medium. This girl is studying in the Eighth grade in a government run school in the city which imparted education only in Hindi medium.

The standard of the English Reader was a bit high for my wife who does not use that language for her day to day communications or activities any more. More over she did her graduation in Economics from a reputed college of Kerala some three decades ago and never had an opportunity to make any use of her economics or english except perhaps refreshing some of those things a decade ago while our children were still in the schools.  She found the Mathematics totally beyond understanding due to its artificial Hindi which was something even the common Hindi speaking people never used in their daily life.

So she decided to take my help.

So I got the opportunity to glance through these two government sponsored text books intended for imparting free education to the economically weaker sections of the society.

The English text book was produced by the researchers of the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Obviously the authors wanted to impress every one with their knowledge in English and their literary skills ! This book is being prescribed on a pan India basis for English language education at this grade on all state run schools regardless of the culture and background of the children. For example, for those children who are from and English speaking background, this book might appear too silly whereas for others it would be too difficult. Apparently the author and the text book selection committees had no idea regarding the conditions at the receiving end !

The Mathematics text book, I found, was written in Hindi, apparently taking great pains. Great pains would indeed be needed to find all those Hindi translations for those commonly understood english words such as algebra, perfect numbers, rational numbers, simultaneous equations, etc for which there are no commonly used Hindi terms. The author or authors were too patriotic that they did not consider it befitting to give the corresponding English words that are universally used in Mathematics. Instead they thought it fit to invent  some uncommon Hindi equivalents making use of the now dead Sanskrit language roots. I am sure, the teachers of these schools also might find this mathematics teaching difficult. The difficulty here is posed by the artificial language of education ! How can the teachers make the students understand the meanings in the right manner  as the language proficiency needed is more than the normal language proficiency attained at that level of education ?

Unlike me and my wife, the girl has her mother tongue as a local version of Hindi. But this mathematics text for her was much more difficult to understand than her English text book.

If we were to study those texts and pass the examinations, we would never make it. That much I am sure. Then what to talk about this poor girl and all those millions like her ? We felt sorry for her and all those like her.

Obviously the modern day Indian educationalists are churning out school curricula not for the children, but for benefitting someone else ! These text books, in my opinion, deprive a greater percentage of under privileged Indian children not to gain anything from education and remain illiterate or at the best name sake school passouts or dropouts. They seldom learn anything properly with reasonable understanding or knowledge. They do not even attain the mastery of simple reading and writing in their own mother tongue, forget english and the sciences !

On the other hand, there are millions of middle and upper class Indians who send their wards to schools that boasts of teaching in English, by paying hefty sums as fees and other educational expenses. In this english medium schools, the children are exposed to learning sciences, mathematics and other subjects in English medium when their own English language proficiency is just in the budding stage. None of the Indian children has English as the mother tongue and they pick up the meanings with great difficulty. It is very difficult to assess whether an Indian student has really understood the meaning of a scientific or mathematical term even while he or she had scored a high percentage of marks in the subject. In reality, those scoring high in English medium schools in physical or social sciences or mathematics are those with good memory to by heart their questions and answers rather than using their logical reasoning skills or original thinking.

Indian educationalists and their political bosses keep experimenting with the school education system that India has seen several changes in the curricula and the education pattern ever since independence. The changes in the recent years have been more frequent that it is difficult to find out whether systems are doing any good for the children.

It is a fact that millions of Indian children are studying in English medium schools and progressing their studies in higher education by spending heavily as school and college fees. They are the english speaking class of Indians or the affluent Indians. They are trained to do their works with the help of English as the working language. They can also use and understand their mother tongues if those vernacular local languages are partially or fully anglicized.

Above their class is perhaps the super rich Indians or the fully anglicansed super affluent class. They are multinationals of Indian origin. Most of them are residents of other countries or regular foreign visitors having a PIO [person of Indian origin] status. They are those who are affluent enough to create a fully anglicanised environment in their residences and schools that they are practically insulated from the influences of the mother tongues of their grandparents.

Then there is this class of intelligent but not so affluent Indians who study their mother tongues and learn other topics through their mother tongues but are intelligent enough to master all these. They are the ones who ultimately become the government servants and the so called bureaucrats of India, helping and supporting their political cousins.

All the above said class of citizens have made up their individual identities as distinct classes of subtle influence.

The last class is the majority in numbers. They are the ones who learnt nothing through their school education, but learnt much more through common sense and keen observations. Their brains are practically free from crap which they can use at their free will as they grow up through difficulties.

They have their muscle power to  their aid. Their simple common sense have taught them that their muscle power has value through which they could make themselves equally important as the other three classes.

So this way the school education system of India is making the Indian society divided as four strong classes at all states, districts, regions, cities and even in the villages. They are bound to become the modern day Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras of India.

Whether any one likes this transformation or not, this evolutionary change is taking place in India, slowly but surely.

The school education under the language fights and tug of wars is the big casualty. It is making the young Indians lose their creativity and scientific enthusiasm ! Otherwise why this more than a billion strong nation has failed to produce noteworthy inventions and discoveries corresponding to its numbers?

All credits go to those who keep experimenting with the Indian school education system !

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Some Urantia Book Quotations that Keep Intriguing Me !

Love of adventure, curiosity, and dread of monotony—these traits inherent in evolving human nature—were not put there just to aggravate and annoy you (humans) during your short sojourn on earth, but rather to suggest to you (humans) that death is only the beginning of an endless career of adventure, an everlasting life of anticipation, an eternal voyage of discovery.
[The Urantia Book 14:5.10]

Curiosity—the spirit of investigation, the urge of discovery, the drive of exploration—is a part of the inborn and divine endowment of evolutionary space creatures. These natural impulses were not given you (humans) merely to be frustrated and repressed. True, these ambitious urges must frequently be restrained during your short life on earth, disappointment must be often experienced, but they are to be fully realized and gloriously gratified during the long ages to come.
[The Urantia Book 14:5.11]

Each of the seven superuniverses is constituted, approximately, as follows:
One system embraces, approximately. . ................ . . . 1,000 worlds
One constellation (100 systems). . . . . . .............. . . .100,000 worlds
One local universe (100 constellations). . . . .. . . .10,000,000 worlds
One minor sector (100 local universes) . . . . ..1,000,000,000 worlds
One major sector (100 minor sectors) . .... . 100,000,000,000 worlds
One superuniverse (10 major sectors) . . ..1,000,000,000,000 worlds
All such estimates are approximations at best, for new systems are constantly evolving while other organizations are temporarily passing out of material existence.
[The Urantia Book 15:2.18]

Practically all of the starry realms visible to the naked eye on Urantia (Earth) belong to the seventh section of the grand universe, the superuniverse of Orvonton. The vast Milky Way starry system represents the central nucleus of Orvonton, being largely beyond the borders of your local universe. This great aggregation of suns, dark islands of space, double stars, globular clusters, star clouds, spiral and other nebulae, together with myriads of individual planets, forms a watchlike, elongated-circular grouping of about one seventh of the inhabited evolutionary universes.
[The Urantia Book 15:3.1]

Irrespective of origin, the various spheres of space are classifiable
into the following major divisions:
1. The suns—the stars of space.
2. The dark islands of space.
3. Minor space bodies—comets, meteors, and planetesimals.
4. The planets, including the inhabited worlds
5. Architectural spheres—worlds made to order.
With the exception of the architectural spheres, all space bodies have had an evolutionary origin, evolutionary in the sense that they have not been brought into being by fiat of Deity, evolutionary in the sense that the creative acts of God have unfolded by a time-space technique through the operation of many of the created and eventuated intelligences of Deity.
[The Urantia Book 15:6.1]

The Dark Islands of Space:These are the dead suns and other large aggregations of matter devoid of light and heat. The dark islands are sometimes enormous in mass and exert a powerful influence in universe equilibrium and energy manipulation. The density of some of these large masses is well-nigh unbelievable. And this great concentration of mass enables these dark islands to function as powerful balance wheels, holding large neighboring systems in effective leash. They hold the gravity balance of power in many constellations; many physical systems which would otherwise speedily dive to destruction in near-by suns are held securely in the gravity grasp of these guardian dark islands. It is because of this function that we can locate them accurately. We have measured the gravity pull of the luminous bodies, and we can therefore calculate the exact size and location of the dark islands of space which so effectively function to hold a given system steady in its course.
[The Urantia Book 15:6.11]

The laws of physical-energy behavior are basically universal, but local influences have much to do with the physical conditions which prevail on individual planets and in local systems. An almost endless variety of creature life and other living manifestations characterizes the countless worlds of space. There are, however, certain points of similarity in a group of worlds associated in a given system, while there also is a universe pattern of intelligent life. There are physical relationships among those planetary systems which belong to the same physical circuit, and which closely follow each other in the endless swing around the circle of universes.
[The Urantia Book 15:6.16]

While each superuniverse government presides near the center of the evolutionary universes of its space segment, it occupies a world made to order and is peopled by accredited personalities. These headquarters worlds are architectural spheres, space bodies specifically constructed for their special purpose. While sharing the light of near-by suns, these spheres are independently lighted and heated. Each has a sun which gives forth light without heat, like the satellites of Paradise, while each is supplied with heat by the circulation of certain energy currents near the surface of the sphere. These headquarters worlds belong to one of the greater systems situated near the astronomical center of their respective superuniverses.
[The Urantia Book 15:7.1]

Read the Urantia Book Paper 15
authored by a Universal Censor hailing from Uversa Online Here !

Read the Urantia Book Paper 14
authored by a Perfector of Wisdom commissioned thus to function
by the Ancients of Days on Uversa, Online Here !

View and Read all the papers of the Urantia Book
with the names of the respective celestial authors Online Here !

Get to know about the Urantia Book by reading some introductory information

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Friday, August 24, 2012

My Love and Hate Relationships with Water !

Water bodies used to fascinate me and attract me always right from my childhood. My native village, Elanthoor ( ഇലന്തൂര്‍) , does not have large lakes, seashore or rivers. But it has plenty of low lying wet lands that have been our paddy fields where we cultivated and harvested various varieties of rice.

Elanthoor is a fairly large place which was part of the erstwhile Travancore Kingdom which later became re-organized as the state of Kerala way back in 1956 after India became a republic in 1950. During my childhood, my father owned a small piece of wetland which provided us the rice we needed for our own use. There were large and small water streams running perennially adjacent to this paddy field which too used to be covered with a few inches of water always. We used to take two crops of paddy every year from this field at that time.

I never used to miss a chance to go to this field which was located about 2 km from my home. The clean cold water streams which never posed a risk were such an attraction to me ( Unfortunately, the landscape changed lot in the last two three decades, that we have no such perennial water flowing streams there now. Incidentally I felt too happy earlier this month when I visited my village for a couple of days when I learnt about the plans of Elanthoor Panchayat (local administration) making efforts to beautify and restore the old chira (pond) to its erstwhile glory).

But the water bodies that we had were too shallow for us to try and learn swimming. Two learn swimming there were two ponds, including the one that I mentioned above, but only a few took advantage of that. I remember attempting to learn swimming in the smaller pond a few occassions and failing miserably.

It was at Kozhencherry St.Thomas School and College that I had my high school and higher secondary education. River Pamba used to be a fascinating attraction for me besides the floods that covered many areas near the school including the roads that connected Kozhencherry town to rest of the towns of Kerala during the monsoon rains. During the months of February, the river downstream of Kozhencherry bridge used to becomes a narrow stream leaving a large stretch of sparkling white sand bed exposed and accessible to all making it the venue for the largest annual christian convention called the Maramon Convention. (Incidentally, the sparkling white river sands have all disappeared to the concrete houses and buildings that sprang up in the last few decades and for the past few years the convention is being held on alluvial deposits that form during the time instead of the sand beds !)

I lacked the courage to learn swimming in River Pamba though I used to enjoy the gracefully clear river of those days.

During the early days of my high schooling I used to be a member of the Akhila Kerala Bala Jana Sakhyam, a wide spread childrens' organization patronized and promoted by the malayalam newspaper group, Malayala Manorama. This organization helped many of the present day politicians of Kerala to develop their leadership qualities during their teen years. I remember participating in a youth camp organized by the Bala Jana Sakhyam (ബാലജനസഖ്യം) at Mundakayam, a sleepy town at the foot hills of the Western Ghats known as Sahya Parvatham (സഹ്യപര്‍വതം) some time in the late Nineteen Sixties. Here my campmates learnt that I was a novice in swimming that they decided to train me and make me a good swimmer making use of the Manimala river that flowed through this town.

The Manimala river here had plenty of rocks placed here and there that the water looked virtually non-flowing from the top. But there used to be strong currents at the bottom due to the water escaping through the rocky passages. There was good, deep enough pools in the river banks suitable for learning swimming. So for a couple of days my mentors taught me the basics and helped me to get the practice of achieving the buoyancy. On the last day they decided that I should do it on my own. While I was floating with a minor support from my trainer I sank like a stone to the bottom of the river. My head touched the stones a couple of feet below the water surface. For those watching, I simply vanished in to the water. I was experiencing the dreadful thrill of water ! Fortunately, one of my panic striken trainers could swim down to pull me out just before the strong river bed currents sucked me in !

My efforts to master water did not find success ! I could not learn the art of making my body lighter than water !

Later while studying engineering at Govt Engineering College, Trichur in the Nineteen Seventies I got another opportunity to master the art of swimming and fulfil my fascination of water. Near to Trichur was the Peechi Dam which supplied drinking water to the city. Unlike the present day, very few people used to visit the dam site on those days, which was maintained beautifully. There was a beautiful garden and a small swimming pool all well maintained. There was a small motor boat running in the reservoir which could be hired exclusively for a couple of hours by making a token payment of just Rs.6/- per hour. I used to visit this dam with one or two of my friends whenever we got an opportunity. Here in the swimming pool, though I made some progress in floating, I could not graduate to the level of a good swimmer !

The Roorkee University (now IIT-Roorkee) where I moved for my PG studies, in the late Seventies, had a big olympic size swimming pool. Roorkee also has the Upper Ganga Canal, a marvellous engineering structure carrying water of the River Ganges for irrigating north west India. But both these were too awesome for me that I was scared of taking any adventures with the water of these ! I used to wonder at the guts of those British engineer who dared to make such a huge canal system way back in the nineteenth century against all odds. Even now it is an admirable sight to see huge water flows in the canal that runs through the century old aqueduct above a river near Roorkee.

During the initial years of my professional career, I got the opportunity to get associated with water. I began my career as a water treatment professional. Later I also got opportunities to become an engineering designer and consultant connected with various aspects of water management.

Our planet is having life and beauty due to water, though we hardly ever realize it unless faced with problems of water scarcity or water pollution.

India is a country totally dependent on rains brought through the monsoon winds. There could be havoc in the Indian economy if the monsoon fails to bring in enough rain water or it precipitates unevenly or untimely. But the monsoon does bring water to the rivers and interiors of the Indian subcontinent. It should be the duty of every Indian to take responsibility of conserving and using this water wisely.

India had great visionary leaders like Sir M.Visveswaraya an eminent engineer turned technocrat administrator of yester years whose abilities and visions were fruitfully tapped by the political leadership of those years. The Krishna Raja Sagar dam of Mysore was constructed under the technical leadership of this Indian engineer, who is regarded as the father of engineering of modern India. The Vrindavan gardens at this dam site is a great tourist attraction of South India. My younger brother, Koshy C Mathew lost his life in a tragic boat accident in the water tank of Vrindavan gardens in 1981- something that should be a cause of hate to those awesome water bodies ! The state government agency that managed the joy ride in the water body did not care to restrict the people boarding the small boat that eventually caused the old boat collapsing.  Nine of the twenty four that boarded the boat for enjoying the beauty of water perished.

And that is water. Water gives life and water takes life !

It is enjoyable, but it can also terrorise.

It is to be handled with care, just as you care your wife !

Care fully, it is so lovable. Care less, it might kill  !

For that you have to understand it well by careful studies and keen observations.

In any case, you should not neglect it !

That is what water taught me. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Experiences and Encounters with Modern Medicine !

I do not know how the present day system of medical treatment got official patronage in most countries to be labelled as 'modern medicine' . What we know now is that this system of medicine is named allopathy which was named so by the German doctor who while practising the same found it not so good for alleviating the sufferings of the common people. [ You may brush up all about the history of allopathy here !]

Doctors and all those supporting people who serve in any field of medicine are special people who need to be admired by all for their services that they provide to other human beings in alleviating pain and sufferings due to illness or injury to body or mind.

So medicine men and women have been treated with great respect by all others. Those who have experienced the horror of illness and injury can never forget these visible gods who helped them to come out of the dread of death or pain or utter helplessness caused by their failed bodies and minds. If they could, they would be too happy to do anything for their doctors in return. This high regard and respect of the patients towards the doctors caused the doctors gaining a high position in the society, both in stature and wealth.

Very soon the modern medical field became the arena for all those who want to become rich and famous in the easiest manner by encashing the fear and helplessness of the sick, wounded and the dying.

There are unscrupulous people in all walks of life. Medical service field is no exception.

When there was not much opportunity for big money making, but only scope for earning the respect of the people, those who opted for learning medicine and becoming medical professionals were driven by the passion of service and empathy towards those suffered.

But some unscrupulous business people with the help of ignorant and complacent law makers soon made medical service field a goldmine of opportunity for making quick money from the helplessness of people suffering from diseases, malnutrition, genetic disorders and man made disasters.

The modern medicine branded as the allopathic system of medicine took the lead in transforming medical service into a money making business. Regrettably other systems of medicine too are are going forward in the allopathic way now.

Sufferings of mankind have become the market potential for those who didnot find anything wrong with making the human body a commodity of immense opportunities ! They are worse than the wild animals who might occasionally kill a human for their food !

This transformation is taking place in my beloved country too. This must be stopped. Unscrupulous elements must be prevented from taking the ultimate control of the medical services field.

To do that our concepts and ideas about the medical services need to be pragmatic, to begin with.

Let me discuss some such concepts and a few associated experiences that I have:

Concept-1 : Allopathic doctors or specialists are well trained and educated people and they know more than us about diseases and medicines.

Not always true. There are many doctors who happened to have obtained their medical degrees somehow without proper learning. Many of them also do not update their medical knowledge and are pitifully low in their common sense and basic skills. All doctors cannot be trusted fully under such a situation. It is better to have their opinions and advice varified by other means including seeking second or third opinions. I have come across doctors and specialist serving in big hospitals who do not know how to take the blood pressure of a patient properly or to interpret it. More damaging is their ignorance about the various medicines they prescribe to the patients. What they know about these medicines are what the medical representatives have told them. There also exists an unholy nexus between the medicine manufacturers (pharma companies), the druggists and the doctors.

Concept-2 : Big five star hospitals provide the best medical service. Not true always. Their charges could be five star rated, but not the services they provide. The bigger the hospital, the bigger the chances for negligence and fatal errors. Most often the hospital supporting staff are underpaid and exploited in such hospitals. A friend of mine who was otherwise well built and healthy became an unfortunate victim of such an error in a big five star hospital. He suffered from a viral influenza and had a severe cough for a few days. He was forced by his near and dear ones to go for a medical check up in a good hospital which made him visit this hospital as an out patient. The hospital people for one full day forced him to run here and there from morning to evening to carry out various tests ( a thing a good experienced family physician of yester years would need to assess the patient's condition!) By this exertion coupled with his cough and low fever made him further weak making the hospital admitting him as an inpatient. A drip and an oxygen mask were routinely fitted and a sedative was administered for him to remain remain motionless on the hospital bed for the night without disturbing any one. The sedative caused stomach convulsions causing him to vomit with the mask covering his mouth and nose and the vomit entering his lungs straight away. No one noticed immediately and when noticed some time in the night he had already dead almost. The hospital authorities kept this a secret to the extent possible and declared him of having a cardiac arrest in the night and kept him on artificial respiration for a few days there after only to remove the respirator later and declare him officially dead when they felt that his family would not be in a position now to pay the huge medical bills.

Concept-3: Surgical methods are the best treatments for getting a new lease of life for some more years and one must do it if you can afford at the earliest. A highly erroneous idea propagated by the so called modern hospitals. No surgery is safe and the chances are always 50:50. [ You have to sign the papers of agreement with these conditions at the last moment !] There exist non-invasive treatiments in other systems which might provide similar or better relief ! Only when the body is severely wounded, or non responsive otherwise, surgery  should be thought of. I know a few people who have been recommended for open heart surgeries some twenty years ago but didnot submit to it and living even now heartily !

Concept-4 : Expensive medicines are the best in effecting a cure. Not true always. On the contrary, expensive medicines can aggravate the situation and may even cause drug induced problems that could be even fatal.

Concept-4: Allopathy is scientific and all other medicine systems are quackeries. There is no substance in this. If you analyze the systems with objectively and with an unbiased mind, you find that all systems are equally good or equally bad. It is better to chose the system depending upon the ailment. Sticking to any one system stubbornly is foolish. I have found all the existing medical systems useful to some extent. It is better to keep it in mind that no system can extent your life beyond what God has determined!

Concept-5 : The more the tests the better the doctors understand the ailment and the treatment. Not always true. Tests do provide some information but it is wrong to assume that all kinds of tests are required for deciding the treatment course. Many times patients are required to undergo various kinds of tests for various reasons not always linked to the treatment. It is also important to keep it in mind that some invasive tests might cause more damage than good in some cases.

Concept-6 : There is a cure for all diseases and ailments in modern medicine if you can spend the money. Totally false. There are many diseases and health problems for which no system of medicine can provide a total solution.

There are more such things.

My only submission to my readers is to be cautious and careful when you or some relative or friend of yours need a medical assistance in the present day situation.

Be careful not to get entrapped helplessly in modern day hospitals established for the sole purpose of extracting money from the suffering people and suck out their life time earnings.

Some of those magnificent buildings out there posing as modern hospitals can turn out to be physical and financial death traps to some !

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